Jennifer Forestal

Jennifer Forestal, Ph.D., is the Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. She previously received her Ph.D in political science from Northwestern University and her BA from the Ohio State University, summa cum laude in political science and comparative cultural studies, with distinction in political science. Her research draws from the history of political thought, particularly in the American tradition, to investigate the consequences of digital technologies for democratic practices. Much of our contemporary political activity occurs online; digital and social media are increasingly the spaces in which individuals create, share, and discuss content related to issues of public concern. The ways in which these sites organize users therefore have far-reaching consequences for how well we are able to engage in democratic practices—or whether we are able to at all. Using resources from political theory, physical architecture, and computer science, she studies the effects of UX design, site governance structures, and software development processes on the potential for democratic engagements both with and through digital media. As a result, her work provides insights into the ways in which we can design, build, and maintain more democratic spaces using digital technologies. She is also actively engaged in scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly around questions of civic learning and engagement both in and outside of the classroom.